If you are like me then you spent your entire 20s focused on one thing: yourself. During my 20s,
I essentially focused on being extremely physically active while pursuing my personal ambitions. In my late 20s and early 30s, my focus was not just on my career and physical fitness, but on understanding nutrition better as well. I got exceptionally good at managing my daily diet and using food to help me reach fitness goals. I will say that part of my success was always working with a coach. My success having a coach is one reason I pursued becoming a fitness coach. Plus, I had become so well-educated about nutrition and fitness that I wanted to share my knowledge by coaching others to reach their goals too. In fact, I made it a point to surround myself with experts in personal training, healing arts, and health and wellness fields.
It was during my late 20s, where I discovered the wonders of nutritional healing and alternative forms of health. By my 30s, everything I ate was directly related to how it would make me look and feel. When I found myself at 35 and pregnant, all my food obsessions and physical fitness pursuits completely changed. The moment I saw the take home pregnancy test strips read a big blue, positive plus sign, everything that was once my central focus: me, shifted to being all about the life growing inside of me.
This is not to say that I threw in the towel about being physically active or eating right. Actually, I became more aware of my body than ever before because I was now a vessel to create a new life. I immediately had to let go of my ego when it came to working out, the number on the scale, and how I looked compared to the childless self I had always known. What also dramatically changed was how I approached my daily diet and lifestyle routine.
Now, if physical fitness and nutritional knowledge has not been part of your lifestyle until getting pregnant, that is fine. Enclosed are recommendations I feel are essentials to having a healthy and happy pregnancy for both you and your baby. I will provide for you everything I found to be most essential during my pregnancy. My recommendations come from the collaborative efforts with my naturopathic medicine doctor, my doula, my prenatal trainer program, my self-research through readings and classes, and my fellow community of mothers and elders. Please note, I am not a medical doctor, so make sure to get your doctor’s approval before practicing any advice or undergoing any exercises.
When it comes to diet for a pregnant woman, there will be things you want to make sure you eat and things that you will want to avoid. I will list both for you. You do not need to follow the myth of eating for two. In fact, in the first trimester eat as you had always done, but perhaps cut out certain food, like raw fish. As you move further into your pregnancy, you will want to slowly increase your calories. Be sure to follow your doctor’s recommendations for caloric increases. Every woman starts her pregnancy at a different weight and with a different BMI (body mass index). Also, each woman comes in with a different body composition. Your doctor will determine a healthy weight gain range for you to be mindful of as you journey forward in your pregnancy. However, don’t get hard on yourself if you gain more than the recommendation or struggle to gain weight. Everyone woman is different and will experience pregnancy differently. I cannot express this enough. Do not compare yourself, your body, or your pregnancy to any other woman. Your body is going to do its thing, so ride the waves, and just take care of yourself and your baby.
I will say, enjoy eating. Think of eating as a way to connect with your baby. You want to give this new life the best nutrition possible. This is not the time in your life to diet down or worry about the scale. The scale will go up no matter what. Again, do not compare yourself to other women. Some women gain no more than 15 pounds being pregnant, whereas other women can gain up to 40, 50, 60 plus pounds. The most important thing is to eat a well-balanced diet that provides you with enough energy to create a healthy baby.
Diet Avoidance Recommendations:
When it comes to supplementation, every woman is different and may require different variations. Make sure you go through all the necessary blood work before taking more than a recommended prenatal vitamin. For example, make sure your thyroid is in good working order. The thyroid hormone is paramount in the creation of a baby. Also, make sure your progesterone levels are healthy. It is important to know if your progesterone levels are healthy because healthy levels of this hormone will reduce your chances of miscarriage. If you do have to take anything for your thyroid or hormones, I advise you to go the natural path and seek out a homeopathic or naturopathic doctor in your area. Stay clear of synthetic hormones or chemicals in your body if possible. You will want to follow all your midwives or OB’s directions for specific supplementation and blood work. Below are the essentials I feel support healthy gestation.
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Please note: this is my affliate link. All suggested products are products I use. I am not a medical doctor so my advice are merely suggestions and not medical advise. Please consult a physician before taking any supplements.
Lifestyle Practices While PregnanT
When it comes to physical exercise, you really need to listen to your body. It is critically important that you do not get blindsided by false representations of being active and pregnant from magazines and social media. Do not compare yourself to other women. You do need to be active though. If physical exercise was not part of your life before getting pregnant, that does not mean you should not make it a priority now. You should aim to make it part of your daily lifestyle because it will benefit both you and the baby for all kinds of reasons.
I recommend walking at least five times a week for at least 30 minutes. If you can maintain a jogging lifestyle, hats off to you, but if you find it uncomfortable then walking is perfectly fine. Walking will help maintain core stabilizing muscles, which is important as you lose core strength the further you go in your pregnancy. You might even find that swimming becomes your most favorite way to get physical movement. I did not have access to a pool until the bitter end of my pregnancy, and though I only got to go a few times, it sure felt amazing to be weightless.
When it comes to physical exercise, you should do physical activities that you enjoy to help reduce stress and anxiety. Resistance training is also still important, but you don’t need to go heavy. Listen to your body first and foremost. As you get bigger, you will find your strength reduces and that is okay and normal. You can always rebuild your strength and muscles after the baby. If you feel you are straining to lift something then go lighter. You don’t want to compromise the baby’s well-being for any reason. Make sure to take adequate rests too. For example, I suggest two minute breaks and drinking water between sets. Do not resume another set or interval until you have fully regained your breath. Never compromise your ability to breathe because now you breathe for two.
I also recommend exploring meditation and other relaxation practices to promote more parasympathetic activity within the body to reduce anxiety. Many women go through periods of worry, mood swings, and anxiety throughout their pregnancy. Doing things like meditation or yoga can help to reduce any troubling thoughts. I found yoga to be super helpful preparing my mind to give birth. The breath work used in yoga is translatable during labor. Plus, as you go through the different stages of pregnancy you might find that your joints hurt, your body swells, or your ligaments ache. Yoga can gently open up the body, so both you and your baby have more room to grow.
I also encourage you to get prenatal massage, acupuncture, and/or chiropractic care throughout your pregnancy. We all have different budgets, but trying to do these periodically will help you to create more circulation in your body and to help you manage the surplus of pregnancy symptoms that you may face.
For all personal care, I recommend anything you put on your skin to be as free of parabens or anything highly chemical as possible. This is a great opportunity for you to explore new skin care regimens. I found my skin completely changed during my pregnancy and I discovered that I needed to add extra moisture to my skin. Everyone is different, but what is not different is the fact that a fragile life is being made inside you. It is best to use all natural and organic products on your body.
Each pregnancy is radically different. Each woman will experience her own unique pregnancy. There are many different symptoms in pregnancy, but that does not mean you have to experience them all. For example, some women have intense morning sickness where other women have none. Some women suffer from extreme swelling while other women have little. Your goal during pregnancy should be becoming your best self. Be as healthy as possible each day. Listen to your body. Allow yourself to slow down when needed. Rest when needed. Ask for help when needed. This is one of the most precious times in a woman’s life, but it goes very fast. Embrace all your changes. Remember, you have your whole life to get fit, but you don’t have your whole life to make a remarkable baby. Enjoy this time in your life. It’s a miracle.
I am a new mother who has her hands full! I juggle not just my coaching business, but I am also a full time educator. I also teach yoga in the Bay Area, and I mentor first generation college students.